USA Today reports on charter school benefits

April 5, 2013 in Blog

USA Today published an editorial Monday about new research showing students attending high-quality charter schools, like KIPP, learn better than similar students in conventional public schools. USA Today says Mathematica Policy Research reports that at KIPP charter schools:

Rewarding excellence in the schools: SB 5901

April 4, 2013 in Blog

Breaking news: Reform-minded Senator Litzow (R-Mercer Island) and Senator Tom (D-Bellevue) just introduced a bill to reward excellence in the schools. It is SB 5901, available here. I am reading through it now. Here is what the bill does that jumps out at me:

12 school districts sign up for charter schools

April 2, 2013 in Blog

Yesterday the State Board of Education announced the school districts which have expressed interest in allowing students in their communities access to charter schools.

There are 12 districts: Battle Ground School District, Eastmont School District, Kent School District, Peninsula School District, Sequim School District, Sunnyside School District, Bellevue School District, Highline School District, Naselle School District, Port Townsend School District, Spokane School District and Tacoma School District.

WEA Issues Union Hit Piece Against Six Reform-Minded Senators

March 25, 2013 in Blog

Executives at the Washington Education Association union (WEA) on Friday issued a hard-hitting email leveled against six bipartisan education reform leaders in the state Senate, two Democrats and four Republicans. WEA executives claim these lawmakers are “shirking their duty” to provide amply for the education of children living within the borders of our state, as the constitution requires.

At hearing, parents seek A through F grading system to measure local schools

March 22, 2013 in Blog

Last week, Brooke Beresh, mother of a 1st grade student at John Hay Elementary in Seattle, told the House Education Committee that parents are hungry for easy-to-understand information about their schools. The House Education Committee was considering ESSB 5328, which would officially assign letter grades to schools based on the State Achievement Index.

Senator Tom wants to spend education money to help children learn

March 20, 2013 in Blog

As reported in Crosscut, last Saturday Senator Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue) told constituents there is no reason to invest money in increased teacher salaries. He pointed to a statistical study of the state teachers’ salary structure and graduation rates which shows no correlation between the two.

School administrators neglect children’s needs while threatening lawmakers at Olympia meeting

March 13, 2013 in Blog

In Olympia Sunday Representative Ross Hunter (D-Medina) and Senator Bruce Dammeier (R-Puyallup) discussed the state budget at a meeting of school administrators and school board directors.

Some members of new Charter School Commission may not support charter schools

March 11, 2013 in Blog

Government insiders know that a common way to undermine a new program is for its opponents to manage it. The opponents are then in a good position to hamper the program's success or to encourage its failure.

The authors of Initiative 1240, the voter-approved charter school laws, were well aware of this danger. For that reason they included a direction regarding the Charter School Commission under Section 208, now RCW 28A.710.070(3), which says:

More on grading schools A through F

March 7, 2013 in Blog

I’ve received some comments about my blog post of yesterday that referred to grading schools A through F as “Governor Inslee’s proposal.” Last year, then-candidate Inslee proposed grading schools A through F.

Senate passes Governor Inslee’s A through F school grading proposal

March 6, 2013 in Blog

This morning the Senate passed SB 5328, which would create a pilot program to implement Governor Inslee’s A through F school grading proposal by giving letter grades to schools in five school districts. School grades would be based on the State Achievement Index and on schools’ progress toward improvement. The bill passed 26 to 23.

A through F grading system benefits Centralia schools

March 4, 2013 in Blog

On March 1st, Amy Nile of The Chronicle (Centralia) reported the benefits of the Achievement Index, which rates Washington’s schools based on student learning. 

Groups seek to stop new charter school law

February 27, 2013 in Blog

As many of my readers know, I have been closely following the behind-the-scenes efforts by charter school opponents to undo voter-passed Initiative 1240 and stop charter schools from opening in our state. In the latest round, executives at the Washington Education Association union, League of Women Voters and El Centro de la Raza are seeking a lawsuit to overturn the Initiative and prevent any children in Washington from attending a charter school.

Governor Inslee supports letter grades for schools

February 19, 2013 in Blog

There’s a lot of buzz about Senator Litzow’s bill, SB 5328, to implement a state ranking system to give A through F letter grades to public schools, so families and taxpayers can know where their local school stands.

What grade would your school get?

February 13, 2013 in Blog

Today, using an idea endorsed by leaders of both parties, Washington Policy Center publishes letter grades for schools on the Washington State Public School Achievement Index. The Index is based on the State Board of Education Achievement Index, accessible here.

Even though the idea of assigning letter grades to schools has wide appeal, state government has yet to adopt the idea.

Senator Tom speaks eloquently on education

February 7, 2013 in Blog

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue), spoke eloquently today on education reform and presented encouraging ideas for change. After noting that the large increases in education spending over the last eight years have resulted in flat graduation rates and a widening opportunity gap, Senator Tom said:

"We don't want to come back to parents, students, and others saying, 'We failed you for another eight years because all we did was put more money into the system.'  It is not about money..."